Independentvoting.org president Salit (co-author: Talk/Talk: Making (Non) Sense of an Irrational World, 2010) discusses independent voters in this “honest and unvarnished account of events, personalities, and contexts in the formative decades of what I feel certain will turn out to be a century-defining dynamic.”
The independent movement began to grow in the 1970s when Fred Newman launched the New Alliance Party in an attempt to beat back the bipartisan election process. The party gained acceptance among minorities and progressive whites, groups who felt they had been shut out of the system. In 1988, Leonora Fulani, the party’s presidential candidate, was slated on the ballot of all 50 states—not only the first woman, but also the first African-American to do so. As the NAP expanded, their influence was felt in both local and national politics. Eventually, Fulani and Newman joined Nicholas Sabatine to form the Patriot Party, which was absorbed in California by the Reform Party. As the quest expanded across the country, the candidacy of Ross Perot really put the independent movement on the map. Salit managed Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral race for the Independence Party, proving that they could be a great influence in politics. Two other significant instances in which independent voters displayed their power were the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 congressional elections. As she explains the pitfalls of political life, the author demonstrates her expertise in the fight to give nonpartisan voters a more potent voice in the democratic process.
Fighting against the strong political machines of a two-party system may seem Sisyphean now, but Salit’s story of how well they’ve done so far inspires hope that one day they will succeed.